Monday, June 8, 2020

It is time for Boston fans - and all of baseball - to confront history.

Recently, on Sportcenter, former Twins/Angels OF Torii Hunter explained why he insisted throughout his career on a no-trade clause to one particular city.

If Hunter were alone, you might dismiss his views. Spoiler alert: He's not. Celtic legend Bill Russell once called Boston "a flea market of racism." Redsock OF Tommy Harper talked about segregated training camps. The likes of Adam Jones, CC Sabathia, Tim Raines, Dave Winfield and David Justice - highly respected players - took note of the special brand of ugliness they received in Boston.

I won't suggest here that the Yankees' record on race is sterling. I'd like to view George Steinbrenner - for all his faults - as an equal opportunity offender. But I do recall Gary Sheffield saying all was not right in Joe Torre's house, and then being ripped for talking about it. Old George never hired a black manager, though - to his credit - he brought on GM Bob Watson, one of the architects behind Torre's great teams.


For all of Boston's posturing, I've always believed the so-called "Curse of the Bambino" was simply that city's karmic reward for a century of racial hate.

As the last major league team to field a black player, the Redsocks managed to pass over Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Elston Howard, Larry Doby, Roy Campanella, Satchel Paige, Don Newcombe, Monte Irvin - so many great athletes that the NAACP flatly accused the franchise of having a secret policy against black players. You reap what you sew.

Of course, there is Big Papi, perhaps the most popular Redsock of his era. I'd like to think that the city's outpouring of love for David Ortiz means something. But Ortiz retired in 2016, and the following May, when Baltimore visited Fenway, the racists turned out to greet centerfielder Adam Jones with taunts and slurs.

The incident rattled the league. The team, the mayor of Boston and MLB itself issued statements. “The racist words and actions directed at Adam Jones at Fenway Park last night are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated at any of our ballparks," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. Nice words. And, really, they're always nice words. Unfortunately, they once again came after an incident - after something that should have been gone long ago. 

Last winter, before America's self-induced coma, the Redsocks traded Mookie Betts rather than pay him what he's worth. My Redsock-fan friends argued that Betts' was deteriorating, that Boston needed youth, that - oh, hell, all I heard was blah-blah-blah... always insisting that race had nothing to do with it. I dunno. With Betts gone, that leaves Jackie Bradely Jr. as the lone African-American everyday starter, and my recollection is that Boston was dangling him in trades. If they deal him, what would it prove?

One of these days, this pandemic will end, the world will start working toward a new normal. We all will have to look ourselves in the mirror. For my generation, that's not necessarily going to be fun.

9 comments:

Rufus T. Firefly said...

I have attended over a hundred games at that pit (at least they turned the seats toward the field in the last major renovation.
There's a reason I refer to their fans as racist townie assholes. They generally are, with few exceptions.

Of all of the black people in the ballpark, well over 99% of them (and there were never that many) were working for the owners, either as players or stadium help.


The lone exception -- Yankee games which are always well represented.

TheWinWarblist said...

That much vile racism in a supposedly educated progressive city tells you what you need to know about America.

Anonymous said...

RUFUS USED THE WORD "ASSHOLES".

BINGO.

THAT'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE THE PROBLEM, NO MATTER WHAT.

ASSHOLES.

THERE'S ALWAYS ASSHOLES. (NOT TO MENTION DRUNKEN ONES AT THE PARK).

WARBLER HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD ABOUT BOSTON, THE "SUPPOSEDLY EDUCATED PROGRESSIVE CITY".

...BUT YOU CAN NEVER SILENCE THE ASSHOLES, AND UNFORTUNATELY, IN BOSTON, THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM.

JM said...

Baseball is one thing, but do you remember the scenes when Boston tried to integrate its public schools?

Such a lovely town they have there.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Believe it or not, as someone who has been at Fenway off-and-on since the 1960s, I think it is better than it used to be. That's in good part because Southie is slowly dying.

But at the same time, there are fewer black people than ever at the park. AND...there are fewer black people than there used to be a Yankee Stadium.

Time was, in the 1970s and '80s, the Yankees were very much the black & Hispanic team in NYC; Shea was noticeably whiter—almost all-white.

Now...not so much. I don't know if this is because of how high the prices are, or because of less African-American interest in baseball, or both. (I do know the Yanks kind of blew it with Latino fans already by not signing or promoting more Hispanic stars.)

What do we do to change that? I mean, besides destroying the neighborhood's leading park, and leaving it without any recreational facilities for years?



Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside said...

I’m proud to have urinated on Fenway park multiple times. When the bars got out on Landsdowne street, I’d walk across and give that place the best drenching I could. Like a Sherman statue, I say tear it down. It’s a giant symbol of racism...

Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside said...

And no, you did not have to slight Steinbrenner out of fairness. That man was all marshmallow inside.

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